"It was a little late (of a hit)," the Ohio State senior tight end said of the play.
It was the closest to an admission of guilt from a member of the Buckeye roster that will go into the weekend's road trip against Indiana minus one of its most experienced defenders. Coleman, who is second on the team with 28 career starts including all four games this season at strong safety, was suspended Monday by the Big Ten for his hit on Fighting Illini backup quarterback Eddie McGee.
The play happened during the final drive of the game with OSU ahead by what would be the final score at 30-0. With McGee wrapped up by a pair of Buckeyes, Coleman came racing in to clean up the play and connected with a helmet-to-helmet shot that was whistled as a personal foul.
The OSU coaches immediately pulled Coleman from the game, but he was not ejected. He was suspended Monday by the Big Ten after further review of the play.
Describing it as "yesterday's news" and attempting to not comment further on the situation after issuing a statement Monday, head coach Jim Tressel said the senior would not be relegated to the scout team this week. Instead, he will see fewer reps as OSU works to ready his replacement.
Tressel said Coleman took the news like a man, a sentiment senior and fellow captain Doug Worthington backed up.
"He knew it was late," Worthington said. "He felt bad about the situation."
Worthington said he was among the first Buckeyes to speak to Coleman immediately after the hit.
"I talked to him right when he came off the field and said, ‘Kurt, you can't do that,' and he said, ‘I know,' " Worthington said. "He was happy that the quarterback was OK. The way we play, the silver bullets, we go out there and we run around. That was a little late but that happens sometimes in the heat of battle."
Junior defensive tackle Dexter Larimore also characterized it as a hustle mistake that is a forgivable sin.
"I personally thought it was just a guy being aggressive, playing the game like it should be played," Larimore said. "If you really critique it, it was a bad hit and stuff, but as a player it's hard to say, ‘You know my hands need to be here, or here, or here' while you're flying around 100 miles an hour."
Coleman is the third Big Ten player to be suspended by the league during the season. Among those three players, he is the only one whose action drew a penalty during a game.
Junior running back Brandon Saine said he did not think much of the play when he saw the replay.
"When I looked back at the game I didn't even realize it had happened," he said. "I know that Kurt's a good guy. He's one of my good friends."
He is also one of three elected captains who represent the Buckeyes during each game. Having to miss the contest against the Hoosiers will not have an impact on Coleman's ability to be a team leader, Ballard said after Tuesday's practice.
"Kurt was out here practicing today still, being a vocal leader on the defense and playing hard still," he said. "I don't think this affects him being a captain at all. He's a big part of this team and he's a great player. We're going to back him 100 percent but he knows that what happened is because of his actions and has to face the consequences."
Once Worthington saw the film, he said he knew Coleman was going to be suspended. Like Larimore said, Worthington said he felt that the important thing was the fact that Coleman was doing what the OSU defenders are taught to do: go after the quarterback.
Still, the fact that it was Coleman – a player active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes who is one of the most well-regarded guys on the roster – makes the scenario a little surprising in the eyes of some of his teammates.
"If anything, everybody sees how hard he is working and how hard he wanted to make a play and get out there and be a presence on the field," Worthington said. "We always want to attack the quarterback and get in their head and make sure that we affect the quarterback.
"It was an eye-opener because the guy's head went back and it was kind of head to head. Monday came along and I thought maybe it could happen because in weeks prior guys in the Big Ten got kicked out. It wasn't something I could really see happening to us. He's a mature guy. We'll move on forward. It's a lesson learned."